Prince's Revolution: From R&B Controversy To Rock Star Status

By | October 27, 2020

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American musician Prince (1958 - 2016) performs onstage at the Ritz during his 'Dirty Mind' tour, New York, New York, March 22, 1981. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

With "Little Red Corvette" and "Let's Go Crazy," Prince finally hit it big. A musical prodigy, Prince secured a major-label contract while still in his teens and released four decent albums, each selling more than the previous one -- but then came the hit, 1999, followed by the masterpiece, Purple Rain.

Just as there could be no one word to describe Prince himself, no genre can summarize the eccentric music he created throughout multiple decades. Through a combination of R&B, pop, rock, funk, and almost every other type of music, Prince invented a sound that had never been heard before and could never be copied. Prince was also courageous enough to write X-rated lyrics for his songs, despite the condemnation he received. This was parallel to the scandalous journey Prince would embark upon throughout his entire musical career. 

Prince Was Surrounded By Music As A Child

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The future star was born on June 7th 1958 in Minneapolis as Prince Rogers Nelson. It was inevitable Prince would be influenced by music as his father John L. Nelson played in a band called Prince Rogers Trio (where Prince got his name) and his mother Mattie Della Shaw was a jazz singer. As a teenager, the 5’1 athlete became enthralled with music and quit the high school basketball team to focus on this new subject He felt no urge to join the school band or take music lessons and instead taught himself piano, guitar, and drums, eventually forming his own band Grand Central. Prince took inspiration from all different kinds of bands especially Sly & The Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Grand Funk Railroad. Although he didn’t realize it at the time, Prince was in the process of creating what would be known as the Minneapolis Sound, what Rolling Stone described as “a hybrid of rock, pop and funk, with blatantly sexual lyrics.”